web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Tale Of Two Kings


The election season is upon us. Once again, we are being called on to select the next leader of the free world.

Candidates of both parties are falling over themselves to tell us how wonderful they are. They are quick to point out the shortcomings of the other side. From “family de-values” to drugs to essays written in kindergarten to being too Christian to not being Christian enough to opposing a war they voted for to flip-flopping on immigration, abortion or what their favorite baseball team is – this motley crew of candidates has done little to convince this writer that any of them is particularly honest.

I would challenge anyone to show me one candidate who has not, in one way or another, re-made himself to appear more palatable to the electorate.

Perhaps this week’s Torah portion can give us some insight into what to look for in a leader.

Joseph, the hero of Egypt, was dead. He had brought prosperity to a land that could have been devastated by famine. A grateful nation venerated him. They honored him in his lifetime and revered him after his death.

That held true for a while, anyway. A new king arose over Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph (Exodus, 1:8). According to the Talmud, he wasn’t a new king at all.

The Egyptians were concerned about the growth of the Jewish population. The Israelites were increasing by leaps and bounds. There was a fear that Joseph’s nation might form a fifth column and join forces with Egypt’s enemies. The Egyptian people demanded that their king address their “Jewish Problem.”

The king at first demonstrated a bit of integrity and refused. He couldn’t bring himself to take action against Joseph’s people. Joseph had been so good to Egypt. But the masses wouldn’t take no for an answer. They ousted the king.

Spending three months as an ex-king was more than he could bear. Thus, a new king arose over Egypt, who didn’t know Joseph. The “new” king with a new attitude conveniently didn’t know – or at least acted as if he didn’t know – Joseph. The persecution began.

Moses worked for his father-in-law. Like his ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses was a shepherd. Impeccably honest, he went far away into the desert to avoid grazing the sheep on someone else’s property.

The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 2:2) describes a day in the life of Shepherd Moses:

“When our teacher Moses, may he rest in peace, was watching Jethro’s sheep in the desert, a lamb ran away. He ran after the lamb until he reached some bushes. Once the lamb reached the bushes, he found a pool of water, and stopped to drink. When Moses arrived there, he said, ‘I didn’t know you ran away because you were thirsty; you must be tired.’ He placed the lamb on his shoulder and carried him. The Holy One, Blessed be He said, ‘You showed such compassion to a lamb … you will be the shepherd of My flock – Israel.’ “

Immediately after this event, God began to speak to Moses through the Burning Bush. He informed him that he was to have the honor and privilege of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. He told Moses to gather the Elders of Israel and go to the Pharaoh and demand that the slaves be released.

Moses wasn’t interested in the job. He felt he wasn’t worthy. He argued that he wasn’t articulate. He claimed that no one would listen to him. “Please send the one you usually send [Aaron]” (ibid. 4:13).

Moses didn’t want to become the leader of Israel. His older brother Aaron had always been the leader and the prophet. Moses didn’t want to hurt his brother by taking an honor that should be Aaron’s.

God told Moses that Aaron had already been informed of Moses’s appointment. Aaron was thrilled that Moses had been chosen for this sacred task. Only upon hearing that Aaron was happy did Moses reluctantly agree to become, in effect, the first king of Israel.

There you have it. Two kings. Two kings of nations. One was not a leader at all. He was a power- and glory-hungry slave to his own people. He had no character; he stood for nothing but his own selfish ambitions.

About the Author: Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz, a mohel (BrisRabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, NewYork, is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His blog on the weekly Torah portion can be read at TorahTalk.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Tale Of Two Kings”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority TV broadcasts incitement from children's school theater.
Palestinian Authority School Children: Boycott Israel by Killing Jews [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

More Articles from Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz
Israel's Chief Rabbinate

Everyone who knows Rabbi Weiss can attest that he is a man of honesty and integrity.

jewish family

Mrs. Cohen displayed that simple, unquestioning, adamant adherence to Torah-true Judaism that typifies many of our German-Jewish brethren.

Is it appropriate for players like Tim Tebow to make grand gestures of prayer to a Master of the World Who has His Hands full dealing with much more important things?

Many years ago when I was helping my congregation write a new constitution, I submitted a first draft to an expert who had been involved in setting up new shuls.

One paragraph read, “All matters of halacha (Jewish law) will be determined by the congregational rabbi.” Pretty straightforward, I thought.

The election season is upon us. Once again, we are being called on to select the next leader of the free world.

The pope has generated a bit of controversy.

First, he permitted congregations to go back to the old custom of praying in Latin. (More about that later.) Then he announced that only the Catholic Church qualifies as a real church. Protestants, as far as the pope is concerned, simply don’t make the grade!

Yes, Torah lives on. Yes, the Lubliner Rav’s dream lives on. THEY WERE SINGING AND DANCING IN YESHIVA CHACHMEI LUBLIN!

Could it be that the Founding Fathers gave the gift of America to the world on a day that Jews were fasting?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-tale-of-two-kings/2007/12/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: